Yascha Mounk and Kara Swisher discuss the role of social media in populist politics and whether online vitriol is an accurate reflection of public opinion.
It is also notable that only one and five adults in the US even use twitter. I don't know that this point gets enough attention.
If one is in the social media bubble, and experiencing its effects, either benign or malign, one is in the vast minority of the adult population.
On tone, I found Swisher hard to listen to so I quit. On substance, she seemed to miss What seems to me the key Problem, which is not the platform that social media gives to already high profile people but the way it amplifies otherwise obscure dangerous lunatics. Cutting off Trump is (arguably perhaps) important not because he wouldn’t have a platform otherwise but because it allows him to assemble a Twitter mob.
I found this episode compelling - Kara made many interesting points and pushed hard on areas that I don't think are emphasized often enough: the problem being about concentration of power more than free speech. But I wish there had been more time for a real debate - it seemed that the conversation switched topics anytime any conflict came up - might we have learned more had there been more time to talk? I think Yascha could have pushed back harder on the topic of defacto public squares for instance. Oh well, good guest, have her back and talk longer!
This was a really good podcast -- but I had to stop about 3/4 way thru because I just could no longer listen to Mounk just keep talking through his guest. She just kept trying to say things in some kind of long form and he just kept talking and talking. Too annoying for me.
Just what we need: more of our society given over to the Plaintiff's Bar. Nah. Typical progressive reaction: open the floodgates for the attorneys, add more cost to business, and create products that are designed by lawyers, for nobody. Pass.
Also, Swisher's dishonesty in not admitting that Facebook and Twitter ARE defacto public squares is maddening. We all know technically, they are not, but, in fact, they are.
I'd actually be open to creating a federally protected and funded "true" public square, free of all but the most vile and dangerous speech, as defined by SCOTUS, but my guess is the left will pass on it - they already have a stranglehold on speech and most mainstream media. Why give it up when the de facto public square is already in the hands of your ideological allies?
Finally, the fucking Bernie meme was NOT fun for everyone. Dressing up and softening a crusty old Bolshevik to be a cute grandpa is repugnant to me, and an insult to the memories of all those who have died under the boot of socialism, democratic or not. The only version of that meme I could stomach was the one with him apparently in the belly of a massive snake.
I love this conversation. I love what Swisher said about Twitter. It IS a platform designed to capitalise on anger and it’s not a platform that encourages unlike minds to get to know each other and thoughtfully debate. I like the idea of clearer guidelines on Twitter. Ones that are less random and can discourage the obvious offences. Makes sense. It is a public square in practice but in reality a private sphere. Humans are humans and we do like to fight, so true! Twitter can have sensible guidelines to stop the worst kind of fighting but for thoughtful conversation we need to go elsewhere. Which is why places like Persuasion are so important.